Shen Yun’s Themes Important for All Mankind, Says Company President

Epoch Times Staff
Created: February 3, 2013 Last Updated: February 7, 2013
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Shen Yun Performing Arts New York Company's curtain call at the Kennedy Center Opera House. (Edward Dai/The Epoch Times)

Shen Yun Performing Arts New York Company's curtain call at the Kennedy Center Opera House. (Edward Dai/The Epoch Times)

WASHINGTON—The depiction and preservation of a lost culture touched company president Charles Tolleson, as he watched renowned classical Chinese dance and music company Shen Yun Performing Arts on Feb. 3.

Mr. Tolleson attended the Sunday matinee performance at Kennedy Center Opera House and said the experience was fabulous.

“The color, the music, the choreography, the venue, the classical aspect, the reach back to culture is fabulous,” he said.

Mr. Tolleson is the president and general manager of Global Linguist Solutions (GLS), a company that provides global language translation, and cultural interpretation services. GLS is also the primary foreign language translation service provider for the U.S. Government.

Shen Yun’s collection of story-based dance dramas, told through classical Chinese dance, was a very entertaining way to express the depth of traditional Chinese culture, said Mr. Tolleson.

“To see the athleticism, the choreography, to be able to follow the story as it’s told and visualized through the dance and through the music, is fabulous,” he said.

New York-based Shen Yun was formed in 2006 by overseas Chinese artists, who wished to revive 5,000 years of traditional Chinese culture through classical Chinese art forms.

According to the Shen Yun website, China’s divinely-inspired traditional culture thrived for thousands of years but was virtually destroyed during violent campaigns waged by the Chinese communist regime in recent decades, such as the Cultural Revolution.

Mr. Tolleson said he learned a lot about traditional Chinese culture from Shen Yun, especially about the belief in divine laws and spiritual principles—Shen Yun’s website notes traditional Chinese culture originates from the three main pillars of Buddhism, Daoism, and Confucianism.

“I wasn’t aware of the particular values that are obviously deeply held values in the Chinese culture that date back millennia,” he said. “I really wasn’t aware of the strong spiritual themes that came through in the performance.”

Mr. Tolleson was delighted by how Shen Yun’s stories reflected profound themes such as good versus evil, divine retribution, and personal redemption.

“The first [theme] is of mankind, and his relationship to his creator. Another aspect is the deliverance of the oppressed by the creator, came through in several of the stories, that good triumphs over evil is a central theme as well,” he said.

He added the themes were universal, and relevant for all of mankind amidst the challenges and struggles of modern society.

“I think the message is absolutely universal; and probably as we’re in the 21st century it’s a message that is actually lost—lost, forgotten, or abandoned, and I think this kind of production brings it back, literally, to center stage,” he said.

“I think it’s a great message given modern day difficulties, when self-reliance may not get it done, when reliance on something less than spirituality fails. This particular performance brings that back, that there is a foundation, there is hope, there is opportunity in the spiritual aspect of things.”

With reporting by Justina Wheale.

New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has three touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. For more information, visit

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